Labour has pledged “compensation packages” worth a staggering £58 billion for the millions of women hit by changes to their state pension age, after PM Boris Johnson broke a pledge to support the women claiming it would be too costly.
Payouts of up to £31,000 will be made to those affected by the changes, with an average payout of £15,000, John McDonnell announced on Saturday evening.
The new scheme will be introduced within the first five years of a Labour government. Payments will go to women born in the 1950s who had their state pension age increased, who say they were given little time to prepare for the changes.
The coalition government, led by David Cameron, made changes in the law that increased the women’s state pension age to 65 in November 2018 – followed by 66 in October 2020, affecting around 3.7 million women.
Women from the WASPI and BackTo60 campaign groups have been fighting against the changes ever since they were first introduced.
John McDonnell said the women are owed an “historic debt of honour” and criticised Tory leader Boris Johnson for dismissing their concerns.
He said: “We’ve prepared a scheme to compensate these women for a historical wrong. It’s one that they were not been able to prepare for and for which they’ve had to suffer serious financial consequences for as a result.
“Some of them have been hit by a combination of poverty and stress, having lost out on what they had contributed towards. These changes were imposed upon them by a Tory-led government.
“So we have a historical debt of honour to them and when go into government we are going to fulfil that debt.”
He continued: “We will introduce it as rapidly as we practically can and we will try to ensure the payments are made promptly. It’s a five year scheme and they will get their redress over that five year period.
“This is a basic principle of justice that we have to adhere to as a government and we are hoping that people will appreciate the sense of injustice and anger that these women feel about the changes that were imposed upon them.”
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn added: “This week, Boris Johnson dismissed the concerns of a woman who has lost out on her pension, telling her it’s “not possible” to right the huge wrong she and so many others have suffered.
“This is about consideration for those who have paid into the system all their lives and made this country what it is, only to be hung out to dry by a government that puts the interests of the richest first.
“The next Labour government will compensate women who were unfairly hit by the rise in the state pension age and give them the respect they deserve.
“The powerful and wealthy want you to believe that real change is impossible, that it’s not realistic.
“But it is possible with Labour. Because Labour is not on the side of the billionaires and the bankers, we are on the side of the people.”